SAINT OF THE DAY: 21 AUGUST, 2015

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

Foundress of the Order of the Visitation
of The Blessed Virgin Mary
(1572-1641)

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

At the age of sixteen, Jane Frances de Fremyot, already a motherless child, was placed under the care of a worldly-minded governess. In this crisis she offered herself to the Mother of God, and secured Mary’s protection for life.

When a Protestant sought her hand in marriage, she steadily refused to marry an enemy of God and His Church. Later, as the loving and beloved wife of the noble Baron de Chantal, she made her house the pattern of a Christian home. But God had marked her for something higher than domestic sanctity.

Two children and a dearly beloved sister died, and then, in the full tide of their prosperity, her husband’s life was ended by an accident, through the innocent hand of a friend, when a small group went hunting in the forest.

For seven years the sorrows of her widowhood were increased by ill usage from servants and inferiors, and the cruel importunities of those who urged her to marry again.

Harassed almost to despair by their entreaties, she branded on her heart the name of Jesus, and in the end left her beloved home and children, to live for God alone. It was on the 19th of March, 1609, that Madame de Chantal bade farewell to her family and relatives.

Pale and with tears in her eyes, she passed around the large room, sweetly and humbly taking leave of each one.

Her son, a boy of fifteen, used every entreaty, every endearment, to induce his mother not to leave them, and finally flung himself passionately across the doorsill of the room.

In an agony of distress, she passed over the body of her son to the embrace of her aged and disconsolate father.

The anguish of that parting reached its height when, kneeling at the feet of the venerable old man, she sought and obtained his last blessing, promising to repay his sacrifice in her new life by her prayers.

Well might Saint Francis de Sales call her the valiant woman.

She founded under his direction and patronage the great Order of the Visitation. Sickness, opposition and want beset her, and the deaths of children, friends, and of Saint Francis himself followed, while eighty-seven houses of the Visitation rose under her hand. Nine long years of interior desolation completed the work of God’s grace in her soul.

The Congregation of the Visitation, whose purpose was to admit widows and persons of fragile health, not accepted elsewhere, was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday of 1610.

The Order counted thirteen houses already in 1622, when Saint Francis de Sales died; and when the Foundress died in her seventieth year, there were eighty-six.

Saint Vincent de Paul saw her soul rise up, like a ball of fire, to heaven.

At her canonization in 1767, the Sisters in 164 houses of the Visitation rejoiced.

Reflection: Profit by the successive trials of life to gain the strength and courage of Saint Jane Frances, and difficulties will become stepping stones from earth to heaven.

(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).)

COMMENTARY FOR 21 AUGUST, 2015

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Commentary on the Reading of the day provided by :

Saint Basil (c.330-379),

monk and Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church
Long Rules, § 3 (SOURCE:  The Fathers of the Church, 1950)

“This is… the first commandment. The second is like it”

Since we are directed to love our neighbor as ourselves, let us consider whether we have received from the Lord the power to fulfill this commandment also… Nothing, indeed, is so compatible with our nature as living in society and in dependence upon one another and as loving our own kind.

Now, the Lord himself gave to us the seeds of these qualities in anticipation of his requiring in due time their fruits, for he says: “A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another” (Jn 13, 34).

Moreover, wishing to animate our soul to the observance this commandment, he did not require signs or wonders the means of recognizing his disciples (although He gave power of working these also in the Holy Spirit), but he says: “By this shall everyone know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (Jn 13,35).

Further, he establishes so close a connection between the two great commandments that benefits conferred upon the neighbor are transferred to himself: “For I was hungry,” he says, “and you gave me to eat” and so on, adding: “as long as you did it to one of these the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25,35-40).

It is, accordingly, possible to keep the second commandment by observing the first, and by means of the second we are led back to the first.

Whoever loves the Lord loves their neighbor in consequence. “If anyone love me,” said the Lord, “he will keep my commandments; this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 14,23; 15,12).

On the other hand, whoever loves a neighbor fulfills the love owed to God, for God accepts this favor as shown to himself.

READING OF THE DAY: 21 AUGUST, 2015

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“When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,  and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”” -Matthew 22:34-40.